How to Stay Safe in Chicago's Extreme Heat

When the temperatures rise to such dangerous levels, Chicago residents are urged to keep the following tips in mind

Temperatures and humidity continue to soar throughout the Chicago area this week, with an Excessive Heat Watch that will go into effect Thursday afternoon. 

The watch will remain until Friday evening and Saturday morning in some areas, warning of heat index values as high as a scorching 115 degrees. 

When the temperatures rise to such dangerous levels, the American Red Cross and Illinois Department of Public Health urge Chicago residents to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Drink plenty of water, at least eight glasses a day to avoid dehydration and ensure that you stay hydrated well before you are thirsty.
  • Avoid alcohol or beverages with high amounts of sugar.
  • Wear loose, light cotton clothing.
  • Avoid or minimize physical exertion and direct exposure to the sun.
  • Do not let anyone sit in a hot, parked car, not even for a few minutes.
  • Check on animals requently to ensure they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water and shade.
  • Visit one of the City's temporary cooling centers: Chicago police district headquarters; Chicago Public Library locations during public hours of operation and other public buildings.
  • Call 3-1-1 for the nearest City Cooling Center located within the six Community Service Centers operated by the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS).
  • Contact local Chicago Park District facilities to find out about beach and park hours and programs. 
  • Sign up for extreme weather alerts by visiting and clicking on the Notify Chicago.

If you see someone suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, take immediate action. Call 911 immediately and then try to safely move the person into a cool place and cool the person with water. Do not give fluids to someone suffering from a heat stroke.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management also urges Chicagoans to be good neighbors and check on the disabled and elderly who may not understand the effects of extreme heat, or call 3-1-1 to request well-being checks and rides to cooling centers.

Other tips include:

  • Wear sunscreen, sunglasses and hats when outdoors
  • Stay in shaded areas.
  • Use a buddy system if required to work outdoors and take frequent breaks.
  • Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.

As for keeping cool inside, here are some tips for how to keep your heat levels, and utility bills, down indoors.

  • Keep windows near fans closed, but keep them open in areas without fans
  • Avoid baking or stovetop cooking by using a microwave. Use an exhaust fan to push hot air out if you do cook.
  • Keep shades down.
  • Take a cold shower.
  • Wrap a cold towel around your neck.
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